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Matthys-Taylor honored as Ox Cart Days grand marshal

“I’ve always been happy here,” said Marilyn Matthys-Taylor, this year’s Star Prairie Ox Cart Days Parade Grand Marshal. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)

The aroma of something good baking in the oven fills the air as I sit down at the kitchen table to interview this year’s Ox Cart Days Parade Grand Marshal Marilyn Matthys-Taylor. Though she admits to not cooking as much as she used too partly due to the kitchen prowess of second husband, Dennis Taylor, her hospitality, gracious demeanor and warm smile make it easy to see why she is deserving of this year’s honor.

Born at the intersection of C and 65th Street halfway between Amery and Deronda, Marilyn Dahl grew up milking cows on a small 80-acre farm, the middle daughter of Laurence and Theresa Dahl.

“We grew corn, hay and oats. I milked cows and pitched hay by hand,” laughed Marilyn.

She attended grade school in Deronda and high school in Amery before moving to New Richmond to work at DoughBoy Plastics.

Marilyn met her first husband, Wes Matthys, while rolling strikes at a local bowling alley.

“I met Wes in the bowling alley. He was on a team. I was there with my sister and her boyfriend just bowling for the evening. He lived in Star Prairie with his parents at the time. I got to know him and the rest was history,” recalled Marilyn.

At Doughboy, Marilyn worked as a counter inspecting the seams on plastic products ranging from pools to children’s toys.

“They had seamstresses that would operate these machines that would sew together the seams for plastic pools and toys. I would pick one each day and count the seams. I sat all day with a paper and a pencil. Half the time I think I’d fall asleep,” Marilyn said.

In search of more excitement, Marilyn began waitressing and cooking part-time at Cullys Cafe, eventually leaving DoughBoy to work there full-time.

“I liked cooking and waiting on people,” said Marilyn.

Marilyn married Wes in 1955 and together they built their home on Saratoga Avenue in Star Prairie where a year later they welcomed their first son, Mark. A year later Mark was joined by his sister, Janet (Praschak), and eventually by his younger brother Shawn. Mark lives in Little Falls, Janet just on the other side of town in Star Prairie,and Shawn lives in Balsam Lake.

In years past, Marilyn could be seen donning a helmet to catch a ride on the back of son Mark’s Harley-Davidson.

“Oh I liked riding on them. I’ve got pictures,” said Marilyn.

When she’s not riding Harleys or volunteering at Bethany Lutheran, Marilyn can be found at work on her sewing machine or painting, something she has enjoyed for as far back as she can remember.

“When I was a kid any blank piece of paper around the house I was drawing on. I did take a course from Art Instruction Inc. in the cities but it didn’t really turn into much, but it was fun. I worked at a job in Amery for a while where they made wooden items that were hand-painted. Best job in the world,” said Marilyn.

Using tools like her computerized sewing machine, Marilyn’s also grown her reputation as a serious seamstress.

“I have sewn for people for 40 years. Things like patching and I’ve done weddings.”

She’s done some traveling as well, including several Caribbean cruises and her favorite trip to Alaska some years back.

“It was a different landscape and it was a whole bus full of people that we enjoyed, too.”

But after 60 years raising a family and living in Star Prairie, there’s no place like home for Marilyn.

“When I’m packing up to leave I’m always wishing I was back home already. I’ve always been happy here,” Marilyn said with a smile.

Not everyone can claim to have been married twice in the same church, but 10 years after Wes passed away, Marilyn was fortunate enough to meet Dennis Taylor and history repeated itself when she and Dennis were married at Bethany last March. It’s possible Dennis did not know what a celebrity he was getting hitched to. Just this past winter, Marilyn had to pass on lighting the village Christmas tree because of prior plans to be out of town. Years before that the Lions Club had asked Marilyn’s husband, Wes, and his brother, Benny, to be cogrand marshals but neither agreed to do it without their wives, so it never came to be. Marilyn sees this honor as an opportunity to make good on that long lost chance on behalf of both brothers.

“I’m not used to being the center of attention, but it should be fun,” Marilyn said.

Despite knowing several previous grand marshals, Taylor has not prevailed upon them for any advice. She figures she can manage waving and smiling to her many admirers including numerous family members likely to be crowding the parade route on Saturday afternoon.

Marilyn admits to having several details yet to work out including what to wear, what kind of pie she’s making for Bethany’s pie and ice cream social and how to convince Dennis to sit beside her for the big show.

“He’s not too thrilled about this parade stuff. We talked about it.

“He is a very kind person but he likes to stay in the background. I might be able to talk him into the front seat but it might take a little cooking,” Marilyn said.

Also see articles on this year's musicK9 5K fundraiser and this parade and other events.